A gravity furnace heats the air and the hot air slowly rises through a duct system as hot air always rises. Just blasts of very hot air naturally rising through the ducts.
The reason this furnace is called an Octopus Furnace is because of the duct-work.
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Each heating vent has it’s own duct that attaches directly to the furnace giving the furnace the look of an octopus. It was not until 1885 that the nation would burn more coal than wood.
Prior to 1885 the majority of homes in America were heated with wood burning brick fireplaces and derivatives (pot belly stoves) of the cast iron Franklin Stove invented in 1742.
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Around the same time, the invention of low cost cast iron radiators would change home heating.
Now homes with a coal fired boiler in the basement could deliver hot water or steam to radiators in every room.
These two methods would dominate home central heating until 1935, when the introduction of the first forced air furnace using coal as a heat source used the power of an electric fan to distribute the heated air through duct-work within the home.
Soon gas and oil fired versions of forced air furnaces would relieve the homeowners from the chore of “stoking the coal fire” and relegate coal furnaces and cast iron radiators to the dust bin of history.
In 1885 the first riveted-steel coal furnace was built.